It is one thing to want to lose weight. It is quite another to go on national television and share your struggle with the world. The stakes are high, the chances of winning seem low, and the temptations to cheat on the process or worse, slide back after the fact, are all around. It would seem that “loser” could be an apt description for much of the show – and that has nothing to do with the weight! I fear that is the way we too often see ourselves in front of sin. Before sin, I sometimes feel like the Biggest Loser!
This 1st Sunday of Lent tells the story of the biggest losers of human history. We hear in the first reading the Genesis story that got us into this losing streak. Adam and Eve, with seemingly so much to live for, chose otherwise and the spiritual fat starts getting put on collective humanity by the pound. And just when it would seem that no sacrificial plan could possibly get the proper diet back, enter Jesus. Someone whom the world might claim to be a loser, shows us in Matthew’s Gospel how to win over the temptations of sin. With the proper balance of enjoying life as it is (and not how Satan describes a life that could be) and connection with His Father in Heaven, Jesus outlines for us the recipe for healthy living. No loser there!
Sadly, however, I believe that I too often approach Lent as a huge tote board of spiritual accomplishment that frequently has me on the losing side. God isn’t counting by the pound each act of self-sacrifice in order to proclaim me a winner of eternal life at Easter. After all, salvation is not gained, but freely given to us. Let our reflection upon Christ in the desert be an opportunity for us to celebrate the times that we got it right: the times that we were, with God’s grace, able to overcome the temptations of the devil who paints truth with a different brush. I am not the Biggest Loser in the sense that I have failed, but rather in that I have been able, at times, to let go of my own selfish desires, my pride, my fear, in order to embrace Christ more and more. To lose the self for the sake of Christ is exactly the recipe Jesus followed – dying to self for the sake of the Father’s will. May we all be united this Lent with that Biggest Loser and celebrate each day the small victories over evil’s fat lure!
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